|Occupation(s):||Artist, former Vice-Chairman & former Interim CEO of Empire Entertainment|
|Family and Friends|
|Family:|| Lucious Lyon (father)|
Cookie Lyon (mother)
Andre Lyon (brother)
Hakeem Lyon (brother)
Anika Calhoun (stepmother)
Bella Lyon (niece; legal sister)
|Other Relatives:|| Rhonda Lyon † (sister-in-law)|
Leah Walker (grandmother)
Joe Walker † (grandfather)
Tariq Cousins (paternal half-uncle)
Bunkie Williams † (paternal cousin)
Carol Hardaway (paternal aunt)
Candace (paternal aunt)
Unborn sister † (deceased)
Unborn nephew † (deceased)
|Relationships:|| Olivia Lyon (ex-wife)|
Michael Sanchez (ex-boyfriend)
Ryan Morgan (ex-boyfriend)
Skye Summers (hook up)
Derek "D-Major" (brief affair)
|Friends:|| Becky Williams|
|Employer:|| Lucious Lyon|
Hakeem Lyon (briefly)
Andre Lyon (formerly)
Hakeem Lyon (formerly)
Composing and arranging music
|Awards:||7 American Song Award nominations|
Jamal Lyon is a main character in the television series, Empire. He is one of the sons of Lucious and Cookie Lyon, the brother of Andre and Hakeem Lyon, the ex-husband of Olivia Lyon and the uncle of Bella Lyon.
Lucious named him as his successor in the season one finale "Who I Am", and promoted him to Vice-Chairman of Empire Entertainment. He was also the interim CEO while his father was incarcerated. He is portrayed by actor Jussie Smollett, and he first appears in "Pilot".
Before the Pilot
Jamal had shown signs of being effeminate when he was a child, and was thrown in the trash by his father, who did not want a son like that. His mother, Cookie, stood up for him, but after her incarceration, he grew up without her for 17 years, during which his father often abused him in an attempt to toughen him up to "make him into a man".
Jamal had released a self-titled album nearly ten years ago, at age 18, however it did not have wide commercial success outside of Williamsburg or Berkeley.
Jamal is introduced playing piano while performing Live In The Moment, alongside his brother, Hakeem. Lucious announces that both Jamal and Hakeem will be releasing albums this year. Meanwhile, he and his brothers arrive at their father's house as their father announces that he will be choosing a successor among them to take over his father's place as CEO of Empire Entertainment. However, Jamal, revealed to be gay, doubts that he will be chosen prior to their relationship and the African-American homophobia in the community. He refuses to be involved in the music industry because of it. When Cookie surprisingly visits Jamal's apartment, he is shocked, especially since Cookie doesn't know about his relationship with his boyfriend, Michael. A flashback shows Jamal visiting his mother in jail as a child. Cookie views Jamal as "different," but shows her acceptance of him regardless.
It is evident that Jamal's relationship with his father is tense. When Lucious calls him to arrive at the record company, Lucious claims that his sexuality is a choice. Jamal, unsure of releasing an album, feels distant from his father. Meanwhile, a flashback depicts Jamal dressing in heels and shows it to his family downstairs. Lucious chases after him in anger for dressing that way, and Cookie attempts to stop him. This flashback continues once Jamal performs Good Enough to an audience. Lucious puts Jamal in a trash can until Cookie stops him. His song describes his estranged relationship with Lucious, feeling distant and that he tries to live up to his standards.
Cookie wants to help Jamal in his career. She then asks to manage his career but denies. Jamal refuses to share his music to the world. Jamal and Hakeem discuss Cookie and Lucious, where Jamal denies that if Cookie manages him while Lucious manages Hakeem, there will be conflict between them. Jamal helps Hakeem with his music after struggling to record songs that Lucious wrote for him, but when Lucious doesn't acknowledge him for it, Jamal decides to accept Cookie's plan to manage him and make him a star.
The Outspoken King
While Jamal decides to hire Cookie as his manager, Cookie convinces him to perform his latest song at Laviticus, the location where Hakeem is slated to perform. However, while Lucious continues to deny Cookie's request, because of Jamal's "different audience," Jamal is conflicted when Cookie assembles a press conference for coming out as a gay artist. However, Lucious threatens Jamal's career, concerned for his business and losing artists from Empire. If Jamal comes out, then Lucious would disown him. Therefore, Jamal backs out of the press conference, abandoning Cookie, and he performs his song, Tell The Truth, a song referring to his father. Meanwhile, Hakeem convinces Jamal to perform with him at Laviticus, and the duo performs No Apologies, with positive reception from the audience, and shock from Lucious.
The Devil Quotes Scripture
Although Cookie strives to find songwriters for Jamal, in order to promote a breakout hit and spark competition with Hakeem, Jamal refuses to be in competition with his brother. Meanwhile, Jamal attends Bunkie's funeral service. Later on, Jamal practices a song that Cookie's old friend gives to him, titled Up All Night, and adds his own twist. At a family gathering, Jamal performs the song, in hopes of impressing his father, but the outcome backfires as he considers other singers to give the song to. With disappointment, Jamal confronts Lucious about the song and departs from the house. Later on, Lucious enters Jamal's loft, augmenting the confrontation. As a result, Jamal voluntarily moves out of his loft and reveals his plot to Michael - to take over Empire Enterprises. F False Imposition
After Jamal moves into a smaller, uncomfortable apartment with Michael, Jamal is suffering from writer's block with his music, and Cookie convinces him to break through that obstacle. Hakeem, meanwhile, seeks advice from Jamal when he has an issue with Tiana. Meanwhile, as Jamal experiences his writer's block, he walks around his new neighborhood as a song vaguely enters his head, intimating the idea of Keep Your Money.
Jamal escorts Cookie to a recording studio in the ghetto, titled Ghetto Ass Records, where he could only afford it for one day to record and release a new single. Throughout the episode, Jamal continues to record Keep Your Money, he expresses his concern about Cookie's disappearance and the quality of the song. Meanwhile, Jamal and the sound engineers at Ghetto Ass Studios are robbed at gunpoint by Hakeem's friends, with Andre as the mastermind. When one of the engineers is shot in the arm, the producers are ambivalent towards overextending Jamal's stay because of the altercation. Within a few hours, Jamal assembles more vocalists and band members to make his song worth completing. After the song is complete, Jamal and Cookie revel in the success. At the end of the episode, Jamal confronts Hakeem when he discovers that Hakeem's friends were part of the robbery, leading to a physical altercation.
Jamal is a gay character in Empire, he serves as a person who is aware of the homophobia in African-American communities. Jamal doesn't seem to abide by society's views on the music industry and how it is set up, showing why he doesn't want to release an album. He has a strong relationship with his mother Cookie, who envisions his stardom despite his sexuality. His relationship with his father Lucious is however, is filled with tension and estrangement. Throughout season 1, his father's acceptance of him soon leads him through a personality change which suspiciously begins to reflect that of Lucious.
Michael Sanchez (ex-boyfriend)
Michael and Jamal were dating each other, as well as living together. Michael left Jamal, packing his bags, saying that he is in love with his music- Jamal denied saying he loves him. Michael says "No, I love you."
Jamal and Michael get back together in the show's second season. Jamal and Ne-Yo will be hitting the road together and Lucious advises Jamal not to take Michael along. Ne-Yo tells Jamal not to listen to his father. Michael cheats on Jamal with the sleazy photographer who shot Jamal's Rolling Stone cover. Although Jamal is a superstar who can have anything he wants the one man he loves hurts him because he's threatened by Jamal's fame.
Lucious Lyon (father)
Jamal and Lucious are father and son. Lucious looks down at Jamal due to his sexuality. Jamal has tried appealing to his father who always shuts him down causing a loathsome relationship between the two. Jamal is very much like his father but he does not share his father's ambition of success or the willingness to burn anything or anyone for it. At the end of season 1 Lucious finally accepts Jamal and puts him in charge of Empire.
Lucious and Jamal's relationship has improved by the show's second season. Lucious is territorial about Jamal's career, preventing him from working with Cookie and encouraging him to break up with Michael. The two collaborate for Jamal's Pepsi song showing how much progress they have made. While Lucious has improved he still has work to do when it comes to accepting Jamal's sexual orientation. Although Lucious saw beyond Jamal's homosexuality in naming him his successor to head Empire, Lucious' reaction to Jamal and Skye hooking up reveals that the former CEO of Empire still has a substantial amount of work to do.
In Empire's mid-season finale Lucious states, "Ain't that a bitch" after he finds out that him and Jamal have both been nominated for American Sound Awards. Jamal's manager, Jamison (William Fichtner) predicted Jamal's nomination for Song of the Year. Jamison hates Lucious, who received his Song of the Year nomination for "Boom Boom Boom Boom" featuring Freda Gatz.
Cookie Lyon (mother)
Cookie is Jamal's mother. In Empire's first scene of the show's initial season, Cookie is released from prison and her first stop is Jamal's house showing how close the two are despite Cookie's 17 years behind bars. Cookie and Jamal share a special bond and Cookie will do anything to help Jamal achieve his goals. Although the two are close Jamal never told Cookie about his relationship with Michael. Cookie is surprised to find out about the relationship in the show's first episode but she makes it clear that she loves Jamal no matter who he decides to date. After Lucious puts Jamal in a trash can for wearing heels Cookie rushes to retrieve her middle-son, letting Lucious know that he has lost his mind. Jamal remembers instances like these and loves Cookie for always having his back.
With Cookie and Jamal attempting to hide their relationship from Hakeem and Lucious the two were unable to share their love for each other as frequently as they wished and they missed out on opportunities to create the spectacular music they are known for.
Now that Hakeem has left Lyon Dynasty and Lucious is no longer the CEO of Empire, Cookie and Jamal can collaborate as much as they wish without hurting anyone's feelings! It will be interesting to see if Jamal decides to leave Empire and join Lyon Dynasty.
Andre Lyon (brother)
Andre Lyon is Jamal's older brother. In the show's first season Andre was a different person. As Cookie and Lucious' oldest son, without musical talent, Andre doesn't think that Lucious will give him the opportunity to lead Empire Entertainment. As a result, Andre decides that he must take extreme measures in order to prove his worth. Andre's wife, Rhonda, made things worst constantly encouraging him to take actions that would negatively impact his brother to make him stand out as the most-worthy of the three to takeover company. Andre got Hakeem's friends to rob Jamal while Jamal was recording at "Ghetto Ass Studios".
Andre has come a long way since the show's initial season. In order to prepare for his baptism he comes clean about arranging the stick up. The confession doesn't sit well with Hakeem at first but Jamal immediately forgives Andre and then Hakeem follows suit. With Andre potentially losing a child this season he is certain to need Jamal's support. While the two don't interact much they have each back as seen when they came together to help Hakeem overcome being kidnapped.
Hakeem Lyon (brother)
Hakeem is Jamal's younger brother. The two go through ups and downs throughout both seasons of Empire. In Empire's first season Hakeem complains that Cookie loves Jamal more yet Cookie explains that she simply knows Jamal better. Hakeem and Jamal have a serious rivalry yet they always find their way back to each other. After Hakeem's friends rob Jamal at "Ghetto Ass Studios" Jamal jumps to the conclusion that Hakeem set him up so Jamal punches him in the stomach.
Hakeem was very upset after Lucious chooses Jamal as his successor. In Empire's "Poor Yorick" episode Hakeem and Jamal fight at the end of Jamal's video shoot because Hakeem is jealous about Jamal's success. Empire "Et Tu, Brute" episode may have worsened Jamal and Hakeem's relationship: Unlike Jamal, Hakeem doesn't receive any American Sound Award's (ASA) nominations. Now that Hakeem is the head of Empire Entertainment it will be interesting to see what happens to Jamal's career.
Olivia Lyon (ex-wife)
Olivia Lyon is Jamal's ex-wife who appears in the show's first season. Olivia is a hair stylist who Lucious forced Jamal to marry when he was 18 years old. Olivia shows up at Empire with her and Jamal's daughter, Lola and disappears. We later find out that Olivia actually left Lola at Empire's office to save her from her abusive boyfriend. In Empire's "Sins of the Father" episode Olivia's boyfriend, Reg, forces Olivia take him to Lola. Olivia and Reg meet Vernon who brings them to Lucious' mansion. Jamal recognizes the tension between Reg and Olivia and Olivia admits that Reg has been hurting Lola. Jamal sees Reg's "scary bird" tattoo that has been causing Lola's nightmares so he attacks Reg. Before Jamal can make his way across the room Reg has his gun out leading Lucious to intervene. Lucious confesses that he is actually Lola's father but before Reg can react, Malcolm, head of security for Empire Entertainment, shoots Reg in the head.
Jamal thought Lola was his daughter before Lucious revealed the truth. When Lola meets Jamal, Olivia explains that she knows all of his songs and Lola sings a little of Jamal's newest song. Malcolm and Becky find Lola alone on the elevator after Olivia leaves her at Empire's offices and they inform Lucious and Cookie. Lucious tells them to bring him Lola and Becky entertains her.
Lucious is happy to move Lola into his mansion and it all makes sense after we find out that Lola is actually his daughter. In one of my absolute favorite scenes Jamal and Hakeem sing Lola a bedtime song. The little Lyon also inspired Jamal's song "Lola". Lola brought Lucious and Jamal together in an awkward way: To save Jamal's life Lucious explains that he is Lola's father and he deserves to die.
Ryan Morgan (ex-boyfriend)
Ryan Morgan is a cutting edge filmmaker Lucious hires to create his documentary and film Empire's White Party. After Jamal records an interview, Ryan asks Jamal out for a drink. Jamal advises Ryan to hide his sexuality around Lucious but Ryan refuses explaining that Lucious can kiss his ass if he doesn't accept his sexual orientation. At dinner Ryan and Jamal discuss how difficult it is growing up gay with an African American father. Ryan advises Jamal to separate himself from his father to see what the world is like minus Lucious.
After Jamal records a song for Lola he has a conversation with Ryan about his plans for the future. Jamal explains to Ryan that he is thinking about moving Lola out of Lucious' house. "I'm thinking about taking her off his hands" Jamal explains. Although Jamal is not asking for Ryan's permission the suggestion does not sit well with the filmmaker. Ryan explains that he is not interested in being a co-parent. They break up as revealed in the season 2 premiere, with Jamal stating that Ryan is a ho.
Skye Summers (brief fling)
Skye Summers is a famous singer who teams up with Jamal thanks to Lucious. A press conference is held to announce Jamal's new album Black and White and Lucious explains that Jamal will collaborate with Skye on the first track. Skye wants to try a new lane and Jamal encourages her to do so. The pair create the song "Powerful" and they get very close throughout the process. The track is a departure from the girl power pop Skye usually creates so Skye is scared that fans may not understand the transition.
The two share a kiss and hook up as revealed in "Et Tu, Brute?". Lucious is excited about Jamal and Skye's connection stating, "she fixed you" after realizing Jamal had sex with her. Jamal tells Lucious that he is still gay, yet Lucious doesn't believe him. At the ASA nominations Charlamagne calls out Skye about associating herself with black or white at any time and uses Jamal as an example. Skye gets angry at Jamal for failing to defend her but eventually the two settle things.